You see them on menus and you hear their pedigree hailed near and far, but what exactly makes a Sydney Rock Oyster?

Native to the eastern coast of Australia, the Sydney Rock Oyster is grown in rivers, bays and lakes, and whilst they vary widely in appearance depending on where they’re grown, you can usually spot them by their teardrop shaped, smooth, thick shells and they are typically harvested at about 6cm or 8cm. Don’t confuse these slow growing little beauties for the larger, introduced Pacific Oyster, with its rougher, thinner shell.

Sydney Rocks are available almost all year round, thanks to the variety of climates along the east coast from Victoria to Queensland. But they’re at their best in warmer weather, spawning in the cooler months. Harvested at around three to four years of age, the oysters are at their best (plump, juicy and plentiful) in the summer months – perfect for the festive season.

For chef Neil Perry, of Rockpool fame, knowing what to look for in a good Sydney Rock Oyster is simple. “A tightly closed and heavy shell and they should be plump and glistening when you open them,” says the internationally acclaimed chef, who also champions sustainability.

And what sets them apart from their bi-valve brothers and sisters? “They have a very intense iodine flavour, are creamy in texture and not as salty as Pacific,” says Perry. Which makes a freshly shucked, velvety Sydney Rock Oyster a perfect match with a chilled, bright and sparkling glass of silly season Champagne. Bottoms up!

Where to get your oysters:

Martin’s Seafood
2 Parsons Street, Rozelle (also at Neutral Bay)
(02) 9818 6998
martinsseafoods.com.au

The Fishmongers
Shop 111 Westfield Shopping Centre, Hurstville
(02) 9579 2820

Steve Costi Seafoods
Northbridge Plaza, Shop 29, Sailors Bay Road, Northbridge
(02) 9958 0974

Sydney Fish Market, Pyrmont
Christie’s Seafoods, Claudio’s Quality Seafoods, De Costi Seafoods, Peter’s Fish Market.
sydneyfishmarket.com.au